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Annecy 2012: Hotel Transylvania

// Reviews (Festival)

Alright, I will admit it. I wasn’t all that convinced by the earlier trailer. It looked like Sony had stifled the very graphic style of Director Genndy Tartakovsky, creator of such frantic classics as Dexters Lab, The Powerpuff Girls, Samurai Jack and not to mention the director of the Clone Wars series which oozes his style. Thankfully I am happy to announce that this is not the case and the Tartakovsky look has been well preserved in Sonys next offering “Hotel Transylvania” a film that seems to have gone to great lengths to showcase the talents of the big time TV animator they have brought to the big screen.

Hotel Transylvania takes place in a hotel owned by Dracula, who is voiced by Adam Sandler, which would be my only complaint about the film. Unfortunately we live in an age where it takes big names to drag people into theatres and Sandler seems to be doing a terrible impression of Arnold Schwarzenegger. This role as the prince of darkness could have been filled by someone with more experience in vocal performance. One of Hollywoods well established voice actors perhaps? That being said he sounds like he had enormous fun in the role and the slight annoyance of having to listen to him soon fades amongst the visual delights on display.

Dracula set up the hotel as a way to protect his daughter Mavis after his wife Martha was killed by an angry mob and so has spent years tucked away running the hotel that caters to the needs of hoardes of uniquely designed monsters, some taken from legend and others from classic universal horror films. The hotel itself appears to have been modified to fit its roll as a resort by changing a mad scientists laboratory into a cocktail bar (staffed by the invisible man – expertly animated) The black lagoon in the hotels grounds has become the guests pool and the dungeons become the place to unwind as a state of the art spa. it’s the nice touches such as these which will define it from any other CGI film with monsters in it.

In order to capture the animation technique of Genndy Tartakovsky the studio developed techniques that would help control the software in a way that would reflect the familiar style. “Geddny blurs” are employed, making the fast moving action more recognisable as his own removing standard blurs and replacing them with more defined shapes. The director also drew over keyframes in the scenes to ensure that the animators went the extra mile to copy the intended look of the piece capturing the definitive shapes of Tartacovsky.

“If we drew all over the poses they would look just as good in 2D as they do in CGI’ – Director Genndy Tartakovsky

This works great and Tartakovsky fans should not leave theatres disappointed. We where treated to a couple of scenes from the film. The film focuses on Draculas daughter who wishes to see the outside world under the reluctance of her overbearing dad. The situation is thrown into turmoil when regular human Jonathan checks into the hotel which prides itself as human free. The first clip we saw featured Jonathans entrance into the hotel and his realisation that the hotel is populated by ghouls and beasts. The second clip we saw is of Dracula trying to hypnotise Jonathan using his vampire powers with little success due to his victims contact lenses.

I think the intended audience will go wild for this film. And animation fans will easily find it populated by enough skill and dedication to be pleasantly surprised.

 

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